I live in Cleveland. I once had Honey Brown beer (a Dundee Brewing Co. brand) at a Cleats in Fairlawn, Ohio; Cleats being a wing joint, and this one closer to Akron. That was like 10 years ago. I remember this because I recall thinking it was so weird to be drinking Honey Brown on tap — only for a few bucks and served up with tons of nostalgia from my college days. But I was even more surprised to recently read that Honey Brown’s biggest market is Cleveland, which gave me deja vu all over again.
According to an article on Crain’s Cleveland Business, North American Breweries, the Rochester, N.Y.-based company that manufacturers brands such as Honey Brown, Genesee, Imperial, Magic Hat, Pyramid and all of Labatt USA’s brands is bringing some 700 Labatt USA employees to Cleveland for its annual meeting and events from Nov. 7-10. From the article:
[Labatt spokesperson Lauren] Christopher said a driving reason the company is visiting Cleveland comes down to a renewed focus on core markets — which Northeast Ohio happens to be.
Cleveland is ranked fifth out of 52 total core markets (some are cities, others are large regional areas) for Labatt, third out of 50 markets for Genesee, and first for Honey Brown (which is brewed by Dundee Brewing Co., a subsidiary of Genesee). Of 38 states Honey Brown is in, Ohio is the no. 1 market.
Ohio does love its beer. It’s a craft beer hub for sure with 244 (49 new in 2017 so far) independent breweries across the Buckeye State (including BrewDog’s new, massive, $30-million facility in Columbus), but it’s still also very much a commercial domestic beer state. Anheuser-Busch has announced it’s investing some $500 million in facilities this year around the country (from Los Angeles to St. Louis), including building a big distribution facility in Columbus, Ohio. That makes sense because Anheuser-Busch has one of its largest breweries in Columbus, which has an output of 10 million barrels each year — only serving Ohio and parts of West Virginia, Indiana, Michigan and Kentucky. Bud Light is still Ohio’s most popular beer.
Labatt’s core markets by state are ultimately concentrated in the Northeast, comprising Ohio, New York, Michigan and Pennsylvania.